How ‘Cheers’ Star George Wendt Launched His Career on ‘M*A*S*H’

by Joe Rutland
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People have watched the classic TV show Cheers and loved George Wendt as Norm Peterson. But he appeared on M*A*S*H, too. It happened to be as a private named La Roche. In the episode, La Roche gets a pool ball in his mouth as a joke. But this is not a joke, either, as the private has to look to one Charles Emerson Winchester III, played by David Ogden Stiers, to help him out. As you may recall, Charles’ bedside manner wasn’t the friendliest among the doctors of the 4077th.

George Wendt of ‘Cheers’ Gets Pool Ball In His Mouth For Episode

In this Halloween episode titled Trick or Treatment, Winchester volunteers for duty at the post-op tent. According to MeTV, Wendt’s pool ball happens to be a prop. So, Winchester helps La Roche out until the pool ball just comes out of his mouth. Stiers’ stuffy appearance as Winchester is simply another doctor’s way of dealing with life in Korea. Sadly, Stiers died in 2018 and some of the show’s actors remembered him in an article for The Hollywood Reporter.

“He was very much his own person, but he loved and adored us as we did him,” Loretta Swit, who played Margaret Houlihan, said. Stiers’ memories are still held close to cast members like Mike Farrell, who reportedly was one of his closest friends on M*A*S*H.

Actor Talks About What Type of Beer He Would Drink On NBC Sitcom

Back to Cheers and Wendt playing Mr. Peterson as Woody would call him all the time. As you know, Norm walks in and is greeted by the crowd at the bar. He gets asked about his day. Norm has his fair share of beer, too. So, what did Wendt drink?

“That was non-alcoholic beer. It was pretty nasty,” Wendt said in an interview with ESPN. “It wasn’t available in kegs and the producers wanted it to be on tap. So they took these cans of this generic non-alcoholic beer and put it into soda pop dispensers and put it in well before we would roll the cameras, so it was nice and flat. So the prop masters would put some salt in the mug to give the head a little pop. That was some serious acting to pretend I liked that stuff.”

Oh, the memories George Wendt does have of playing his famed role on NBC. He offered quite an interesting quip about it in an interview with Chicago Magazine in May 2021. “Norm is just me with better writing,” he said. “There were hundreds, if not thousands, of actors who could have delivered on the absolute gems that I was handed on a silver platter every Wednesday morning.”

Outsider.com